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What is the Runequest/Mythras system focus?

Lawrence Whitaker

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Validated User
As for social combat, I would love it if your player or yourself would post that here or on the TDM boards.
We'd love to see it too. Genuinely. :)

We do agree that having Special Effects for Social Conflict is a good idea, but obviously Social Conflict is such a broad canvas with such a diverse range of possible effects, it would be tricky to accommodate it in the core rules. One option is to take the Spirit Combat Special Effects on page 138 of Mythras and adapt them slightly for Social Combat instead. Apply the standard Combat rules in the same way, with Social Hit Points based on CHA or the average of CHA+POW, and use the Spirit Combat effects when a social skill differential roll generates an effect.

For example: Character A is using Customs to try to expose NPC B as an imposter in the queen's court. NPC B is defending with Deceit. Character A rolls 04, critting on her Customs roll, and NPC B rolls 35, succeeding on his Deceit. Character A has posed a complicated and nuanced question on court etiquette that only a true member of court can answer. NPC B has made a good stab at the answer, but stumbled on one crucial fact. Character A has generated a Special Effect and chooses Bleed Essence, which is a crit-only effect, and causes the opponent to leach one Social Hit Point per cycle until combat ends. NPC B is duly humiliated and although he might try and recover with smooth talking, he's socially exposed and will be forced to withdraw from the scene at some point, such is the depth of this subtle humiliation.
 

Thalaba

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To me, the focus of Mythras (and the RQ games from which is has evolved) is on world simulation and anthropological roleplaying. The game encourages the design of societies, the creation of characters that are embedded in those societies, and explores what happens when those societies clash. This aspect of the game is particularly forward in such published settings as Glorantha, Mythic Britain, and Monster Island.

To me, the social system in Mythras is pretty much exactly what I want from a social system, so I'd have to say it handles social activity very well. That's because the people in my groups like to act out social interactions from the perspective of our characters. A single roll of the dice every so often to inject a bit of randomness is all we want. Adding more mechanics and dice rolls to this would pretty much ruin the flow of conversation and break the immersion up. So for us, a light social system is a feature, not a flaw.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
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To me, the focus of Mythras (and the RQ games from which is has evolved) is on world simulation and anthropological roleplaying. The game encourages the design of societies, the creation of characters that are embedded in those societies, and explores what happens when those societies clash. This aspect of the game is particularly forward in such published settings as Glorantha, Mythic Britain, and Monster Island.

To me, the social system in Mythras is pretty much exactly what I want from a social system, so I'd have to say it handles social activity very well. That's because the people in my groups like to act out social interactions from the perspective of our characters. A single roll of the dice every so often to inject a bit of randomness is all we want. Adding more mechanics and dice rolls to this would pretty much ruin the flow of conversation and break the immersion up. So for us, a light social system is a feature, not a flaw.
This is a perennial problem with design in this area; its the area that is simultaneously under-supported for some people, and most likely to get resistance from others to have more rules present. There's no really good solution because the needs of end users tend to be almost diametrically opposite.
 

Deliverator

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Here it is. Feel free to leave comments here or directly on the doc.

We've run it once so far, and will almost certainly run it again this coming weekend. The first time, there were some problems, but I *believe* I've fixed them. The Bodies of Argument (Hit Points) were too high, so the Clash went on too long, so the roleplaying became stilted and inorganic, leading to player frustration. Also, there was sort of a weird thing where the teams each consisted of a normal PC and a high-ranking NPC, so there were some odd interactions and feelings of being outclassed.* We're going to try to be careful of that from now on.

The title of the sub-system, "The Clash of Cleverness," is a play on Burning Wheel's "Duel of Wits," the social combat system to rule them all. All of the stuff about the proper social framing of the CoC comes from there (paraphrased, of course). Breaking up into teams for CoCs comes from BW's child, Mouse Guard, though that idea has since been incorporated into BW proper, with the release of Gold a few years back.

I wouldn't actually recommend using CoC for the example given above, where the PCs are trying to expose someone at court as a fraud. That's better handled with simple rolls, though perhaps an extended series rather than just one single roll. Why? Because there aren't necessarily sufficient counter-stakes.

If the fraudulent courtier wants the PCs exiled or something, *then* you've got the proper setting for a CoC. I'd still probably give the PCs a scene or two to gather evidence; when they deploy it could lower a roll's difficulty by one grade. Or, if the evidence was proof of their own innocence, then maybe it increases the difficulty of the courtier's role.

Thanks for your interest, everyone, and most especially thanks to Stone-Tharp for running an awesome campaign!

*Given RQ/Mythras' focus on being an "anthropological RPG," as someone put it up-thread (which is great terminology, by the way), I think there's an entire discussion to be had about how to handle NPCs: their stats and skills, when to roll for them versus handwave, how to keep the spotlight always on the PCs, etc. In many ways, as is well-known from things like Forgotten Realms, friendly NPCs can be much more problematic than antagonists. There is no one right answer; each group will simply have to figure out what works.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
*Given RQ/Mythras' focus on being an "anthropological RPG," as someone put it up-thread (which is great terminology, by the way), I think there's an entire discussion to be had about how to handle NPCs: their stats and skills, when to roll for them versus handwave, how to keep the spotlight always on the PCs, etc. In many ways, as is well-known from things like Forgotten Realms, friendly NPCs can be much more problematic than antagonists. There is no one right answer; each group will simply have to figure out what works.
You certainly have some issues with most BRP based games that its not actually hard for an NPC to be, at least in their area of expertise, as good or better than a PC because of the flattening effect of advancement; that can sometimes make NPCs seem overly significant, even though in overall terms the chances are most experienced PCs are better than the vast majority of NPCs.
 

Raleel

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Excellent. read over it once, but need to cogitate on it for a while. thank you for sharing!
 

Deliverator

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This is a perennial problem with design in this area; its the area that is simultaneously under-supported for some people, and most likely to get resistance from others to have more rules present. There's no really good solution because the needs of end users tend to be almost diametrically opposite.
For sure. However, I also think many discussions of this topic involve a whole lot of people talking past each other. Some specifics:

The pro side points out that, without social conflict mechanics, the loudest or most charismatic players will dominate the game. Thing is, if people are acting that way, it's a problem no matter what.

The con side points out that too many social mechanics can make roleplaying stilted and too formalized. But we don't bust out the Duel of Wits or whatever for every little thing—it's the practice of rolling for irrelevant crap that ruins game's immersion, IME.

The con side also points out that "talking to people" is a skill we all have, unlike swords and spells. I find this response unsatisfying for all kinds of reasons, but I do get where the objection comes from.

Personally I think the way to square this particular circle is to be really, really careful about deployment. Many things you should in fact just roleplay out, because there may not be a conflict or meaningful stakes; others you resolve with a simple roll, and only for big things do you bring in the full mini-game. Also, you never ever roll (simply or otherwise) to change how someone feels or what they believe, only to influence them to *act* in a particular way. Any other approach takes away too much agency, in my opinion.

Also, even more broadly: I think there are basically two schools of thought about RPGing. There are people who want it to be a *game* that produces fiction, and others who want it to be an *activity* that produces fiction (with maybe some mechanics when there's fighting because tradition). If you're in the latter camp, of course you're not going to like social conflict mechanics. Because in those cases, the point of a game's structure is simply to provoke interesting interactions and confrontations and what not, but not to make the resolution of those conflicts especially dependent on play skill.

Mind, you, I like and play lots of light story games, and have even done some design work in this area. It's just that I am *most* comfortable in the space represented by Mythras, Burning Wheel, Riddle of Steel, Spellbound Kingdoms, etc.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
For sure. However, I also think many discussions of this topic involve a whole lot of people talking past each other. Some specifics:

The pro side points out that, without social conflict mechanics, the loudest or most charismatic players will dominate the game. Thing is, if people are acting that way, it's a problem no matter what.
I can't agree. The problem with pure roleplaying socials is that its pretty much inevitable that the person best at it will be the ones to influence that. There's really no way around it. "Dominate" might be an overstatement, but it still means the people who get to play social characters are the people who naturally have aptitudes in those areas.

Now, you get some of this in any system where player input actually matters, whether its combat tactics, investigative decisions, or social interactions; but when you lack any mechanics for those areas, there's nothing to fall back on when doing those but player skill, and the less mechanical support there is, the more that's going to be the issue.
 
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